The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
THE STORM WITHOUT

AMONG the earliest visitors to Farringford were Coventry Patmore, who brought the proofs of The Angel in the House, and Jowett, editing St Paul's Epistles. This unorthodox edition was, in 1855, to start a long period of persecution at Oxford. Jowett's election to the Mastership of Balliol would be postponed for fifteen years; he would be summoned by the Vice-Chancellor's Court to confirm his acceptance of the Thirty- nine Articles; and he would have to work for ten years as Regius Professor of Greek at the ludicrous salary of forty pounds a year, which the university refused to increase, though all other professors' salaries had been raised to ten times that figure. Such obstinate persecution roused Tennyson's sympathy; and just as he supported Jowett, so he continued to support F. D. Maurice, that other storm-centre of religious controversy. The publication of Maurice Theological Essays in 1853 had brought a new attack on his liberal views. He maintained that the popular belief in eternal punishment was an unsanctioned superstition; and the Principal of King's College showed the passage to his council, who decided that Maurice must resign his chair at once. The resignation that roused the sympathy of all liberal thinkers brought him a heartening poem from Tennyson:

Come, when no graver cares employ,
Godfather, come and see your boy:
Your presence will be sun in winter,
Making the little one leap for joy . . .

Should all our churchmen foam in spite
At you, so careful of the right,
Yet one lay-hearth would give you welcome
(Take it and come) to the Isle of Wight . . .

Come, Maurice, come: the lawn as yet
Is hoar with rime, or spongy-wet;

-85-

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